By , The Sports Xchange
Published September 26, 2017
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the majors with 44 homers, is putting on a spectacular power show.
Stanton has homered in six consecutive games -- two short of the major league record -- and will try to keep it going on Wednesday afternoon when his Miami Marlins (57-61) play the San Francisco Giants (48-73) in the rubber game of a three-game series.
"You have to be a little more careful with a guy like that," Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner said after allowing a home run to Stanton but also striking him out on Tuesday.
Outside of Stanton, Wednesday's game has little meaning. The Giants have the second-worst record in the National League and are just trying to get the season over with as quickly as possible.
The Marlins, 8 1/2 games out of the wild-card race, have dreams of getting into contention. But a 9-4 loss Tuesday to the lowly Giants showed, once again, that Miami is simply too inconsistent to be taken seriously at the moment.
So without a playoff race to monitor, the game will be all about Stanton, who has hit 11 homers in his past 12 games and 22 in his past 35.
The last major-leaguer to homer in six straight games before Stanton was Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who accomplished the feat in 2015.
Stanton's 11 homers in August are a Marlins record for this month. His 11 homers in the first 15 days of any month put him in rare company as only three other players in major league history have done that: Ralph Kiner in 1949, Sammy Sosa in 1998 and Troy Tulowitzki in 2010.
Since the All-Star break, Stanton has 18 homers, which leads the majors and ties a Marlins record.
On Wednesday, assuming he is in the lineup in a day game after a night game, Stanton will face Giants right-hander Matt Cain (3-9, 5.22 ERA), who has been very hittable the past several years.
Cain, who hasn't started since July 31, hasn't produced a double-figure-win season since 2012. The last time he had an ERA under 4.00 was also in 2012.
The only reason he is in the lineup on Wednesday is because the Giants needed an extra starter due to a Sunday doubleheader at Washington.
Cain, 32, is making his 21st start and 23rd appearance of the season. He is winless in his past 12 starts, going 0-8 with a 6.29 ERA. He hasn't won a game since May 15.
Perhaps there is some optimism for Giants fans in that Cain is 6-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 17 career starts against the Marlins. In his only appearance against Miami this season, Cain gave up two walks (one intentional) in a one-third of any inning.
Cain will be opposed by right-hander Jose Urena, who has assumed the role of Marlins ace. Urena (10-5, 3.76 ERA) leads the Marlins in wins but has been vulnerable to the long ball (17 homers). He has also battled control issues, hitting 13 batters.
Urena has faced the Giants just twice, including one start, and he is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in those appearances. In his one start against San Francisco this year, he gave up three runs and five hits (including two homers) in five innings.
Those are not good numbers, but they are trumped by Cain's road record this year: 0-6 with a 7.69 ERA.
So, if all else fails, sit back and enjoy Stanton's chase at history, a story that comes with a twist since Marlins manager Don Mattingly is one of three players who homered in eight straight games, joining Dale Long and Ken Griffey Jr.
"Mine was a little eighty-day-er," said Mattingly, downplaying his home run streak that started on July 8, 1987 and lasted until July 18. "It is just one of those things that you just feel good up there."
Stanton, who has driven in 94 runs this year, is on pace for 129 RBIs, which would break Preston Wilson's franchise record. Wilson drove in 121 runs in 2000.
However, the home run chase is getting far more attention, and Mattingly is one of the few people on earth who knows what it is like to be this hot and this consistent with a power stroke over six games or more.
Mattingly, who hit 10 homers during his incredible streak in 1987, had "only" 30 long balls overall that season. But he still had a great year, batting .327 with 38 doubles, two triples, 115 RBIs and a .937 OPS. Mattingly was 26 years old at the time, and the most amazing thing was that it wasn't his best year in any of those categories.
Now he is managing Stanton … and rooting for him as well.
"I would like to see him beat (the record) because that means he hits a homer tomorrow and the first two games in New York (against the Mets)," Mattingly said. "The last thing I'm going to do is root against him hitting homers.
"We're trying to win games."